John MillerApr 12, 2023
The Heart of the Forest
Why Woods Matter
British Library 2022
The Heart of the Forest: Why Woods Matter (British Library, 2022) looks at threats to forest life across the globe. Dr. John Miller draws on literature, film and art to explore why woods matter to us, building on the ecological case for saving trees to raise the compelling question of their cultural value.
The Heart of the Forest explores four enduring ways in which we connect to the woods – through Refuge, Sacredness, Horror and Hope – making fascinating links between emotion and genre. For Henry David Thoreau, the woods are places beyond civilisation; for Ursula LeGuin and C S Lewis, they are loaded with otherworldly potential; and for those fleeing captivity, they can provide a welcome sanctuary. Woods can strike fear, they can inspire wonder, they can be lovely, dark and deep.
With full-colour illustration throughout, this book branches out into the British Library to find both the haunting and the hopeful in an unparalleled collection of books, manuscripts and photography. It tells a global story of how we understand trees, and its beautifully illustrated pages present a moving argument for conservation and renewal.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.